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A detailed analysis of early complications resulting from tracheostomy in 50 consecutive patients, admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, who had required ototracheal intubation, is presented. The very low incidence of complications seen in this study supports the contention that a carefully performed tracheostomy is a safe procedure in the management of these critically ill patients. In view of this and the greater incidence of laryngeal and tracheal stenosis associated with longer periods of orotracheal intubation followed by tracheostomy, early tracheostomy should be considered in patients intubated for five days in whom further prolonged respiratory assistance is anticipated.

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